Jeb Bush Putting Out Feelers in New Hampshire

Jeb Bush Putting Out Feelers in New Hampshire
Jeb Bush Putting Out Feelers in New Hampshire
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Two top New Hampshire Republican strategists have been contacted this week by a Jeb Bush confidant to discuss their interest in leading the former Florida governor’s prospective presidential campaign there, RealClearPolitics has learned from GOP sources in the Granite State.

The new outreach from Bush’s camp was directed at a pair of experienced and well-respected New Hampshire GOP operatives, each of whom has previously helmed presidential campaigns in the state.  

Both were given the proverbial instruction to “keep your powder dry,” suggesting that Bush is leaning toward entering the race early next year.  

“I think the decision’s been made, personally,” said one of the strategists who was contacted by Bush’s camp and who spoke to RCP under the condition of anonymity. 

Neither of the operatives has been contacted by Bush himself, but they were asked if they'd be interested in speaking with the would-be candidate.

The calls represent the typical form of indirect outreach that likely candidates extend to prospective top staffers before finalizing their decisions to make a White House run.   

“I’ve definitely perceived an uptick in the perception of him doing this,” one of the consultants said of the conversation this week with the Bush confidant. 

"Governor Bush has not made a decision yet on whether he will run for President,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell, told RCP. "He has not reached out to anyone in New Hampshire, including these anonymous, unnamed 'operatives.'" 

On Monday, the former two-term governor made headlines when he said that the next Republican presidential nominee should be willing to "lose the primary to win the general.”  

The comment was widely taken to mean that Bush would not back away from his staunch advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform and the Common Core educational standards -- two positions at odds with a majority of the Republican base -- in order to secure the GOP nomination.  

If Bush does enter the race, New Hampshire -- with its wide swatch of moderate Republicans and independents who vote in the presidential primary -- figures to be the early voting state most critical to his chances.  

This new outreach to top strategists there signals that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- for whom New Hampshire will be an equally important piece on his electoral chess board -- may not be able to wait much longer before soliciting top Granite State talent for his own expected campaign.

Both New Hampshire operatives expressed interest in speaking with Bush.  

“Of the Bushes, he’s the guy I like the best,” said one of the strategists. “If I were betting money on it, I’d bet he’d be the nominee because you’ll have eight to 10 conservatives beating each other up, and someone will take the middle, and it’ll be either him or Christie.”

This story was updated at 7:05 p.m. Dec. 4.

Scott Conroy is a former reporter for RealClearPolitics and the author of a new book, "Vote First or Die: The New Hampshire Primary -- America's Discerning, Magnificent, and Absurd Road to the White House."

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